Jay Cronley: Can I have your attention, please?
BY JAY CRONLEY World Staff Columnist
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 3:50 AM
Attention spans are shrinking.
The shrinkage could be proportionate to the decline of civility, among other valued things.
University professors report that some students have difficulty retaining information from one paragraph to the next. Short books are assigned for reading projects in college because so few students can stay with anything longer.
Some have attention spans that are too short for even one-syllable words, u c.
Wait for it: A professor of psychology at Stanford had a bright idea in the late 1960s.
It was to test instant gratification among children, ages four and five.
Then the professor had a brighter idea, which was to follow up on the lives of those being tested.
The test is an example of the simplicity of genius.
There were no winners, no losers - just treats.
The researchers put some children in a room, one at a time, with the assurance of good things to come: A marshmallow, a cookie and a pretzel stick were placed in front of each child. The child could eat the favored treat immediately, end of story. Or the boy or girl could wait a while and get another treat when the researcher came back into the room in about 15 minutes.
It became known as the marshmallow test.
Delaying gratification was a struggle for most of the kids.
One girl moved her chair to a corner so she couldn't see her marshmallow. A boy banged on the table. A girl pulled at her pigtails. Another girl played with the marshmallow like it was a stuffed animal. One boy looked around the room to make sure nobody was there, took his cookie apart, licked out the middle and replaced the outside pieces.
He's probably the CEO of a major corporation.
Thirty percent of the children were able to wait for the second treat. Of those who gobbled down their treats right off, some were obviously hungry. Some came from environments where trust was lacking.
But the 30 percent who were able to think a new way and avoid instant gratification scored markedly higher on SAT scores and were more successful financially and socially.
All-excess pass: Many lives today are deep into unnecessary excess: trending, tweeting, sending texts, scanning, skimming, lying, cheating, following, gossiping, bullying, abbreviating.
This suggestion has only the best intentions.
Please get your heads out of those screens full of garbage while you still have most of your brains left to use for thinking and creating.
Original Print Headline: Sense is virtually lost cause